To be perfectly clear, I had a ball in the 1970s. In fact, they were the BEST years of my life. Guess when you’re in your 20s, life is somehow full of adventure, mystery and wonder. I didn’t have to worry about paying the bills. My parents did. And pay them, they did. I didn’t have to wait on gas lines on even or odd days. My license plate (on my convertible ’66 baby blue Mustang) were words (THEBABE) not numbers, so I could fill up anytime I wanted to. Back in those days a dollars’ worth of gas could get you to the beach and back.
To be even more perfectly clear, I enjoyed the 70s so much that I never truly left them. To this day I still think I’m that happy-go-lucky, 20-something year old. I dress the same (tee shirts and jeans). I cook the same. Follow the same tried-and-true recipes (see below) and I’m still in love with Jeff Bridges. He aged almost as good as I wish I had.
Many of today’s economist are threatening that the upcoming economic collapse (oh! it’s coming!!) is going to either be just like the 1970s or worse. Click here for that info. I say “Bring it on!” And “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” (FDR) Back in the 1970s my then-husband and his contractor father installed a wood burning stove in our family room. This time around, my now-husband installed a wood-pellet stove in our living room. What goes around, comes around. Once you personally solve your personal energy crisis the rest seems to fall in to place.
I remember one time, back in the late 1970s (I got married first time in 1974) my then-in laws came over for dinner. There was no money to buy bread so I made corn muffins to go along with the beef stew dinner I prepared for them. I took a lot of slack for those corn muffins but at only .15 cents per box, it was the best I could provide. I also remember, quite distinctly and still with fear, how the elderly were found to be eating cans of dog food. That fear has always stayed with me for over forty-five years. I think that’s one of the main reasons why I still continue to cook and prepare my meals as if I am still in the 1970s.
For one thing, 1970s-styled cooking is energy efficient and extremely low cost. This morning I got up and decided to prepare some of my most favorite dishes from the 70s that I still make to this very day. But before I started cooking, I turned on my free Spotify app and listened to the James Taylor Radio Station. The channels boasts the talents of Carly Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Cat Stevens, Simon & Garfunkel and of course, James Taylor. This music will certainly put you in an easy, breezy 1970s mellow yellow.
First dish up is a tomato dill soup that I’ve been preparing every single end-of-summer for the last forty-one years. While I was pregnant with my second daughter, my sister paid for a 7 week French cooking course for me, to help pass the time. I learned to make this delicious French tomato-dill soup, that can be served either hot or cold, using some of the left over tomatoes I had in my vegetable garden. Yes! I had a vegetable garden back in the 70s and I also learned how to cook and can my produce. Realistically, nothing much has changed these past four decades. For me.
I sautéed a cut up shallot (this was the first time I ever cooked with shallots), cut up tomatoes (in this recipe I used two beefsteak tomatoes) and several cut up carrots in olive oil till tender. I didn’t have any large carrots this morning but I did have a leftover bag of baby carrots, so I used them. You learned back in the 70s to use up every morsel of food. NOTHING ever got thrown away. Once the veggies are cooked and limp, I added in 1.5 cups of my own, home-made chicken broth, salt & pepper to taste and a giant handful of dill (I grew this herb in my garden) and simmer all for 1 hour. Once done you can either whirl the soup in a blender or I used an immersion blender (that I got for free back in the 70s) and make the soup as smooth or as rough as you’d like. I like it a tiny bit chucky. Serve with either a dollop of sour creme or plain yogurt.
Next up, what child of the 60s or disco queen, could survive without making her own yogurt and topping it with her own granola? Mine is sweetened with honey (of course) and contains lots of old-fashioned oats, shredded (sweetened) coconut, slivered almonds and dried, plump cranberries, baked in a 350F oven for only 10 minutes. My yogurt maker got lost in transit somewhere along my life journey but then the Greek God’s sent down, what else, Greek Yogurt! A bowl of plain Greek yogurt, some of either my strawberry or peach preserves, smothered under my home-made granola. Geez, so easy, so inexpensive and so healthy!
Lastly, is my infamous banana bread with walnuts. Now, I know almost everyone out there has their own favorite banana bread recipe using their leftover bananas, but mine dates back to the 1970s, uses sour creme in the recipe, a half pound of butter (I use margarine) and lists proudly in my Joy Of Cooking cookbook. Originally published in 1931, this recipe dates back to 1936! It pleased me in the 70s and it pleases me in the 2020s.
The moral of my story is to tell you not to be afraid of the 70s. We valued a dollar back then and hopefully we will value the dollar again this time around, even if that dollar is only worth fifty cents. We lived extremely simple back in the 70s. Almost everyone had a skill. Whether it was fixing up a car (my father-in-law once used a coffee can as his muffler replacement), repairing an appliance, washing, cleaning, making due with what we already had or bartering with someone else to get what we needed, it all seemed to work out. I don’t remember much hardship in the 70s. Yet, I did know it was very serious. On the weekends we made it our business to have fun. Disco dancing on Friday Night. Date night on Saturday nights. Hanging out with our friends on the corner, singing, gossiping, chatting.